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June 29, 2012

"Nutella" Chip Oatmeal Cookies

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Those "Nutella" Chocolate Chips aren't just for snacking, they happen to make amazing cookies as well!

After making those Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies, I was on a cookie roll.  I baked four batches of cookies in one week.  And I hogged about 99.8% of it all to myself, even the first two failed batches (because ugly cookies are still tasty cookies).  Like most people, I love thick and hearty chewy cookies.  I can't think of anything more comforting to me than all that combined, along with some chocolate chips, of course.  And for the first time in my life, these cookies had all of those elements... they were nice and thick, hearty from the oats and chocolate and chewy while warm.  Once cooled they harden a bit, but pop it in the microwave for ten seconds and BAM, just like it was from the oven.

I will make these cookies again and again.  They taste exactly like the cookies I used to buy at the grocery store--super sweetbuttery, and unhealthy... except these are low in sugar, contain NO butter, and are totally guilt free.  They don't taste like it though, trust me, they taste like sin.

"Nutella" Chip Oatmeal Cookies:  [eggless, low sugar, GF, vegan]
(makes ~21 cookies)

    6 tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk
    20g (3 tbs) Ground Flaxseed
    28g (2 tbs) Coconut Oil
    128g (1/2 cup) Raw Almond Butter or Raw Hazelnut Butter
    21g (1 tbs) Molasses
    1 tsp Butter Extract
    180g (3/4 cup + 3 tbs) Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
    144g (1.5 cups) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
    50g (5 tbs) Brown Rice Flour
    1/2 tsp Baking Powder
    1/2 tsp Baking Soda
    1/4 tsp Salt
    1 cup Homemade "Nutella" Chocolate Chips, cold from the fridge

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
2.  In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the almond milk until hot (I microwaved for 30 seconds).  Stir in the flax and set aside to gel up.
3.  In your largest microwave-safe bowl, microwave the coconut oil and almond butter until melted (I microwaved for 30 seconds).  Stir in the flax gel, molasses, then the butter extract.  Stir in the erythritol.
4.  In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the oats, rice flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Pour this over the wet ingredients and fold.  Carefully fold in the nutella chips (feel free to add some chopped hazelnuts too).  Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough onto the prepared pan about 2-3 inches apart.  Flatten each cookie slightly with piece of parchment paper and bake for 10-13 minutes, or until edges have browned slightly.  Carefully transfer the parchment paper onto a cooling rack (the cookies will be very soft right now) and let cool.

Stores in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

I think these are best when slightly warm.  The chocolate gets all fudgey, gooey and melty, and they taste like they were freshly baked even the next day.  Pure comfort, in a healthy package.

June 28, 2012

Dark Chocolate "Nutella" Baking Chips

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If I told you how many times I've made Homemade Nutella recently, I'm not sure if you'd give me a high five or a punch in the arm... it's quite a shocking number.

I maayybe use it a little too much.

Are you going to (virtually) punch me?

Well, I hope not, because my total overuse of the stuff has brought delicious homemade chocolate chips into my life, and soon to be yours.

No no, this isn't any old recipe, this is a necessity.  You must have it.

Why?  Because chocolate chips are boring once you've had a taste of these.  These are like chocolate chips on crack.  The rich dark chocolate and sweet Nutella combine to make the fudgiest and most satisfying chocolate chips one can wish for.

Similar to chocolate chips, these are totally snackable.
Not so similar to chocolate chips, these are actually healthy!

Dark Chocolate "Nutella" Baking Chips:  [low sugar, GF, vegan]
(makes 1+1/3 cups)       inspired by Ivory Hut

  2oz 85% Cacao Chocolate (I used Lindt)
  1/2 cup of this DIY Nutella

1.  In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until chocolate is melted.
2.  Stir in the nutella until fully incorporate (it will look like the chocolate has seized, but that's okay, just keep stirring).
3.  Line a large loaf pan with parchment paper and flatten the chocolate (I wrapped my fingers in plastic wrap and pressed the mixture down).  Refrigerate for about 1-2 hours, or until firm, then bring to room temp (I left mine on the counter overnight).
4.  Line a flat cutting board with parchment paper and flip the chocolate onto it.
5.  Slice into small cubes using a pizza cutter or sharp knife (it will be a little sticky).  Once you have all the cubes, refrigerate overnight on the parchment paper (I'm sure you can just refrigerate them for a couple hours instead of overnight, I was just busy).  They should no longer be sticky, and they are ready for use!

Store chips loosely covered in the fridge.  Add to a batter (cookie, brownie, etc) in its chilled form, straight from the fridge.

I'm sure you're asking yourself, "Well, can these be baked or what??"

Oh yes, they can.  I made cookies.

"Nutella" Chip Oatmeal Cookies to be exact (and they're secretly healthy too!)

June 26, 2012

Thin & Chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies [2 ways]

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I'm still on my quest for a thick and chewy (yet healthy) peanut butter oatmeal cookie.  But I've gotta say, these cookies are definitely an amazing placeholder.  First of all, they're jumbo, and second, they don't taste healthy at all!  They spew the rich and decadent essence of peanut butter with every whiff and obviously, every bite.

I'm not going to lie, I was a little disappointed to see them thin out in the oven.  These cookies happen to be my third trial.  Why can't I get it right?  I even googled how to fix my cookie issues, but they always involved creaming the butter for longer or adding more sugar... two ingredients that these cookies don't contain, therefore, unhelpful advice.  However, after a taste of these delicious cookies, I fell in love.  A surprising thing, because I'm a girl who loves her thick and hearty cookies  ;)  Although these weren't thick, they were definitely hearty.  I mean, look at the size of that thing!


Seriously, they were like the size of a baby's head.
(weird reference, but it's all I can think of right now)

Most importantly, we can agree on one thing:  when it comes to cookies, bigger=better!

Am I right?  Yes, I'm right.

Thin and Chewy Jumbo Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies:  [eggless, low sugar, GF, vegan]
(makes 16 jumbo cookies)
   8g (1 tbs) Arrowroot Starch (or cornstarch)
   13g (2 tbs) Ground Flaxseed
   6 tbs Unsweetened Almond Milk, cold
   49g (3.5 tbs) Coconut Oil
   128g (1/2 cup) Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar/salt/oil added)
   192g (1 cup) Granulated Erythritol
   28g (1 tbs + 1 tsp) Molasses
   144g (1.5 cups) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
   1/2 tsp Baking Powder
   1/2 tsp Baking Soda
   1/4 tsp Salt

**Note:  I made these cookies at both 350 degrees F and 375.  They turned out almost exactly the same in thickness, texture, taste and size, only the cookies baked at 375 were a little chewier in the center.  You can bake them either way depending on your preference, just be careful to watch them in the oven so they don't overbake!

1.  Preheat oven to 350 or 375 degrees Fahrenheit (read ** above) and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
2.  In a small bowl, stir together the arrowroot starch, flax and almond milk, set aside to gel up.
3.  In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the coconut oil (it should look like water, I microwaved mine for about 20 seconds).  Whisk in the peanut butter.
4.  In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the erythritol and molasses to make brown sugar.  Scoop this into the coconut oil+PB mixture and whisk.
5.  Add the oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the bowl used to make brown sugar and stir.  Pour this over the wet ingredients and fold until everything is incorporated.
6.  Drop modest-sized spoonfuls of the batter about 4 inches apart (they spread a lot!) onto the prepared pans and bake for ~12 minutes at 350, or ~7 minutes at 375, taking the cookies out when the edges have browned.
7.  Let cookies cool completely so they firm up (right now they are kind of squishy still like half-baked cookie dough) then enjoy!

Keeps in an airtight container for 3-4 days.  I put parchment paper in between each cookie so they wouldn't stick.  Note that these cookies are somewhat delicate, so they won't stand being in an overstuffed purse for a snack later that day.
Oh, how do I know that?  Gosh, I don't know...  ;)

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And now, Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Version #2!

While most people probably prefer the cookie recipe above, I thought I'd include the previous trial recipe.  These cookies were smaller, crispier (yet still somewhat chewy in the center) and a tiny bit more "authentic tasting" due to the butter extract (I didn't add this in the recipe above because I forgot it, oops!).  So, despite being small and crispy, which is not my preference, quite a few cookies went "missing" during it's cooling period.  Who stole my cookies?  I sure don't know, because I was home alone and with a full stomach (cough cough)... but whoever ate them (wink wink) should not feel guilty one bit, because they are 100% natural and healthy!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Lace Cookies:  [eggless, low sugar, GF, vegan]
(makes 28 small cookies)
   13g (2 tbs) Ground Flaxseed
   1/4 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
   56g (1/4 cup) Coconut Oil
   128g (1/2 cup) Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar/salt/oil added)
   1 tsp Butter Extract
   28g (1 tbs + 1 tsp) Molasses
   192g (1 cup) Granulated Erythritol
   144g (1.5 cups) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (GF if you like)
   1/2 tsp Baking Powder
   1/2 tsp Baking Soda
   1/4 tsp Salt

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
2.  In a small bowl, stir together the flax and almond milk, set aside to gel up.
3.  In your largest microwave-safe bowl, add the coconut oil and heat until mostly melted (about 15-20 seconds).  Stir in the peanut butter and butter extract.
4.  Stir in the molasses, then stir in the erythritol.
5.  In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then dump into the peanut butter mixture.  Fold until everything is incorporated (it should look like there are too many oats, but don't worry that's fine!)
6.  Use a tablespoon measure (or spoon) to scoop the dough and place 2-3" apart on the baking sheet.  Flatten the cookies with your fingers, and press together any cracks that form on the edges.  Bake for ~9 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned (make sure to keep watch, I burned a few by leaving them in the oven for an extra minute or so)

What kind of cookie do you prefer?  Thick, thin, chewy, crispy, big, small?

June 23, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake Cake Pops

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After making this cheesecake and mashing the life out of it to create beautiful and delicious cheesecake pops, I thought, why not do the same with the cake you just baked?  Don't worry, I only mashed two slices.  I couldn't handle much more destruction of a perfectly good cake.  But, those two slices were worth it.

What's better than a slice of cake?  That's right, two slices.

What's better than two slices of cake?  14 cake pops!

^^ One of the best bites of my life

Strawberry Shortcake Cake Pops:
(makes 7 cake pops per slice of cake)
    1/10th of Strawberry Sponge Cake (including 1/10th of the frosting!)
    1/3 cup Freeze-Dried Strawberries (enough to make mixture pink)
    3-4oz White Chocolate (all natural please!)
    1 tsp of Freeze-Dried Strawberry Crumbs, for topping (optional)

1.  Line a cookie sheet or brownie pan with parchment paper or wax paper and set aside (make sure there is room in your freezer for the pan)
2.  In a medium bowl, mash the cake+frosting and freeze-dried strawberries together until mixture is fully mixed/moistened.  Scoop mixture and roll into 1" balls.  Place balls on the prepared pan and freeze for one hour.
3.  Melt the white chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one. Put the cake balls on popsicle sticks (or just dunk in the chocolate and scoop out with a fork) and dip into the chocolate, coating the entire ball.
4.  Place the popsicle sticks onto a styrofoam block and place in the fridge to firm up.  Refrigerate for about an hour, or until chocolate has hardened.  Serve!

At first I wasn't really impressed with this nutrition label, but cake pop in hand, I took another bite.  I reconsidered.  A super sweet and decadent cake pop coated in delicious white chocolate and bursting with strawberry flavor, for only 120 calories?

Yeah, I'll take it.

And, because they are very rich, you'll feel satisfied after just one or two.  But if you're like me and have a major sweet tooth, it'll take about two or three  ;)

June 22, 2012

Strawberry Sponge Cake with Strawberry Frosting

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I've always been mesmerized by a grocery store's baking aisle.  Every location carries different products for different prices and at different sizes.  However, there are certain things that never change:  the boxed baking mixes.  I know them like the back of my hand, yet I still look through each of them for a good five minutes.  I guess I like the variety.  From vanilla to red velvet, from chocolate to banana, etc.

But one box always catches my eye:  the strawberry cake mix.  The cake photographed on the cover of the box is so brightly colored pink, it's hard not to look.  The cake looks so moist and flavorful, you can almost taste it while you're staring at the box.  One day, I finally picked up the box.  I glanced at the nutrition label and read (or, attempted to read) the ingredient list.  My eyes open wide in shock, I gently put down the box, and walk away in awe.  How could so many bad things come in such a pretty package?  On my drive home, I was determined to make a healthier, all natural homemade version!

Oh, and what a success it was!  Embarrassingly enough, I wasn't really expecting much at first.  After I put the cakes in the oven I researched other homemade strawberry cake recipes.  I could only find a handful that didn't use food coloring, and many bakers warned that without the coloring the cake will have no hint of red at all, and sometimes the cake will even turn grey!

I panicked and ran to the oven, but the cakes were already rising.  All I could do was wait and think of how gross the cake I was baking was going to look.  Would it be bland?  Would it be mushy?  Would it be... grey?!?  I sat there thinking of ways to improve the cake that I haven't even seen yet, in prep for trial #2.  Should I add lemon juice to preserve the strawberries' color?  Should I invest in a bottle of natural food coloring?  Should I give up baking for life just bake a totally different cake as part two of my baking rehab?

The kitchen timer went off, bringing me back to the real world.  Riiiiing.  Riiiiing.  Riiiiing.

I slipped on my oven glove and peered through the oven window.  I exhaled, opened the door, and removed the cakes.  But things were looking up!  The surface of the cake was slightly pink, and it was surprisingly fragrant.  Once the cake was frosted and served with a side of strawberries, all my cake-anxiety slipped away.

I melted with each bite.  This moist and sweet cake bursted with strawberry essence, perfect for summer's warm weather.

Strawberry Sponge Cake:  [low fat, high fiber/protein]
(makes two 9" cake rounds)
    240g (2 cups) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
    48g (1/4 cup) Pure Cane Sugar
    32g (1/4 cup) Arrowroot Starch (or cornstarch)
    30g (1/4 cup + 2 tbs) Whey Protein Concentrate
    1+1/2 tsp Baking Powder
    1/2 tsp Baking Soda
    1/4 tsp Salt
    3/4 cup + 2 tbs Fresh Strawberry Puree* (see directions)
    113g (1/2 cup) Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
    170g (2/5 package) Lite Firm Tofu, drained
    184g (1/2 cup) 100% fruit Strawberry Spread
    28g (2 tbs) Walnut Oil (or any other neutral oil)
    2 tsp Vanilla Extract
    1 tsp White Vinegar
Optional Add-Ins:
    2-4 tsp Stevia Extract (2 tsp if you want an extremely sweet cake+frosting, 4 tsp if not making frosting)
    1 tsp Strawberry Extract
    Natural Red Food Coloring

1.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and generously spray two 9" cake pans with cooking spray, set aside.
2.  *Cut the greens off the strawberries and remove the white insides with a knife.  Toss into a blender and puree.  Measure 3/4 cup + 2 tbs and put into a small bowl or 1-cup-measuring-cup, set aside.
3.  Using the same blender, and add the yogurt, tofu, jam, oil, vanilla, vinegar and the prepared strawberry puree.  Puree until tofu is liquified.  Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl (add optional add-ins now if you want)
4.  In a medium bowl, add the dry ingredients and whisk.  Scoop 1/3 of the dry mixture over the wet ingredients and gently fold with a rubber spatula until barely mixed.  Add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients and gently fold again.  Add the rest of the dry ingredients and gently fold one last time.
5.  Pour half of the batter into one cake pan and the other half into the other.  Flatten the surface of the cakes by tapping the pan on the counter a few times, then put into the oven.  Bake for 30-32 minutes and let cool in the pan for one hour.  Wrap each cake individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  If you have uneven cakes (like I did), stack the thinner cake (with its round side down) onto the thicker cake (with its round side up).  This will make for flat cakes so you don't have to trim them before layering.  The next day, top with strawberry frosting.

Strawberry Frosting:*  [low fat/sugar, high protein]
    8oz Fat Free Cream Cheese, room temp
    42g (3 tbs) Coconut Oil, soft
    1/2 tsp Butter Extract
    1/3 cup Fresh Strawberry Puree, hulled
    1 cup Freeze-Dried Strawberries
    1 tbs 100% fruit Strawberry Spread
    1/2 tsp Lemon Juice, fresh
    two 8oz packages (3+3/4 cups) Powdered Erythritol

*This is quite a large recipe that makes a lot of frosting... I didn't want to waste my money spent on the powdered erythritol, so I piled all the leftovers on the top of the cake.  This ended up being perfect because everyone who tried it loved it like that, you should do the same!  :)

1.  In a medium mixing bowl, whip/whisk the cream cheese and coconut oil until fully mixed.  Add the butter extract and whip again.
2.  Cut the tops of about eight large strawberries and remove the white insides.  Toss into a blender with the freeze-dried strawberries, jam and lemon juice and puree, scraping the sides if necessary.  Pour over the cream cheese mixture and whisk.  Whisk in the powdered erythritol one cup at a time.  When everything is incorporated and smooth, refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until thick and frosting-like.  While the frosting is cooling, take the cakes out of the fridge and unwrap them.  Put one cake down on a serving plate with parchment paper, dry off any moisture with a paper towel, and frost as pictured below (more instructions after the photos):

3.  To frost the sides, pour the rest of the frosting on the top of the cake and slowly spread to the edges, completing about 1-2 inches at a time (if you push it over the edge it will dribble down and not stay put, so you'll have to do it slowly and carefully!  Definitely worth the effort though)
4.  Once entire cake is frosted, refrigerate for about 30 minutes to an hour, or until surface of the cake is no longer wet/shiny looking.  Slice and serve on the chilled side with some strawberries and maybe even some fresh lemonade!

Here is the nutrition label (includes frosting):

I have no words.  Literally.

A moist and fruity cake with a smooth and sweet frosting for only 290 calories and 8g of fat per slice?  I'm having a hard time believing it myself.  Based on this label, this cake trumps every other cake on the planet the boxed version  ;)  And even better, this is totally a suitable breakfast option!  Whole grains, fruit, yogurt... this beats a bowl of cereal by far.  Join me, and have some cake for breakfast.

Oh, and you can make cake pops out of this too  :)

June 20, 2012

Blue Blueberry Oatmeal Cookie/Pancake/Muffin Tops

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I'm terrible at making cookies.  Just.  Terrible.

They're either too dry or too gooey.
They either rise too high or spread like a puddle.
They either burn to a crisp or don't cook through at all.

However, with these "cookies" I'm happy with "in the middle" results.

As these baked away in the oven, a fragrant blueberry aroma spread throughout the kitchen.  I was so excited to try them, but all I could do was stare through the oven window.  Things were looking up, they weren't spreading like goo, they weren't burning around the edges, and thankfully, they didn't explode (I have bad luck in the kitchen sometimes...)

Once the cookies looked ready I peeled my forehead off the oven window and brought them out.  I tried to let them cool on the counter, but I could only wait so long...  I dived right in and picked one up.  Ehhhhh, it's muffin-y!  *makes a sad face*  I took a bite.

Oh.  My.  Gosh.  Amazing!  Like a blueberry muffin but sweeter, dense and soooo much better.

I may have eaten three in a row ... hot of the pan.

Yeah, "three"   ;)

Blue Blueberry Oatmeal Cookie/Pancake/Muffin Tops:  [eggless, sugar free, high fiber, GF, vegan]
(makes ~17 cookies)

    1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
    26g (1/4 cup) Ground Flaxseed

    144g (1.5 cups) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, blended to a coarse flour (GF if you like)
    96g (1 cup) Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, left whole
    96g (1/2 cup) Granulated Erythritol (or dry sweetener of choice)
    1/4 tsp Salt

    56g (1/4 cup) Walnut Oil (or any other neutral oil)
    one 10oz jar (3/4 cup) Blueberry Fruit Spread (100% fruit, I used St. Dalfour)
    50 drops Stevia Extract**
    1/4 tsp Lemon Flavor

**I like sweet cookies so I added this.  Reduce/add to taste, or omit if you don't want sweet cookies

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2-3 large baking pans with parchment paper, set aside.
2.  In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave the almond milk for about 20 seconds, or until warm, then stir the flax and set aside to gel up.
3.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the oat flour, oats, erythritol and salt, set aside.
4.  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, jam, stevia and lemon flavor.  Whisk in the flax gel.
5.  Fold the dry ingredients into the wet (it should be somewhat runny, not as thin as cake batter but not as thick as cookie dough).  Spoon the mixture and drop onto the parchment paper (I used the spoon to help make circle shapes) and bake for 12-15 minutes (depends on size of cookies), or until the tops of the cookies are no longer shiny.

I like these best warm, especially when they're cooling from the oven  ;)  but I did wrap some overnight with parchment paper between each cookie so they wouldn't stick together and they were just as good the next day!

Maybe I'm just weird, but I really liked the texture of these.  They really did have the textures of cookies, pancakes and muffins all together.  My mother wasn't a fan since she likes thin and crispy cookies... she also hates pancakes so I guess that explains it, but I loved these.  Anyways, enough talk from me, here's the nutrition label!

I'm pretty happy with a 130-calorie cookie/pancake/muffin top thing!  In comparison, these have about half the calories/fat than storebought cookies, with double the fiber/protein.

Because the cookies I made were quite big, I made a quick and simple breakfast out of them by sandwiching two together with some raw almond butter in between.  Because the almond butter is paired with the oats in the cookies, the snack turns into a complete-protein meal.  This sandwich of mine was actually pretty filling, I would definitely recommend it.  You can use any nut butter you like, or maybe even add some banana slices in between too!

Cookie/pancake/muffin tops for breakfast?  That can't be a bad thing.

PS:  try out the Pink Berry Cherry Almond version too!

June 19, 2012

Classic Cheesecake Pops

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When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

When your oven overbakes your cheesecake, you make cheesecake pops.

Okay, when you press the snooze button and overbake your cheesecake, you make cheesecake pops.

Understandably, we polished off my deliciously authentic, healthified Classic Cheesecake fairly quickly.  There was only one solution to a cheesecake obsessed family:  bake it again.  Sadly, round two didn't go as planned and I left the cheesecake baking in the oven for a little too long.  I was dismayed to see dark brown edges and deep surface crevices.  Why do snooze buttons exist??

But, there was a way to salvage it:  mash it horrifically and make cake pops.  Because sometimes, beautiful things can come from ugly, not so appetizing things.

I mean, would you have ever guessed that I overbaked this??  Nope!

And as I served this, no one knew my little secret.

Classic Cheesecake Pops:
(makes 5 pops per cheesecake slice)
     1/10 of Healthy Classic Cheesecake, slightly overbaked* (including crust)
     2.5oz Dark Chocolate, melted (or whatever chocolate you like)

*If you are diligent and didn't overbake the cheesecake, just add 1-2 tbs of whole wheat (or GF) graham cracker crumbs to the "batter" until it can roll nicely into balls, as pictured below

1.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or wax paper, set aside.
2.  Put slice of cheesecake into a bowl:
3.  Mash with a fork:
4.  Scoop mixture and roll into 1" balls.  Place on cookie sheet and freeze for about 30 minutes:
5.  In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate at 30-second intervals, stirring between each one, until melted.  Put the cheesecake balls on popsicle sticks and coat in chocolate.  Place on cookie sheet and refrigerate for about an hour, or until firm.  Serve chilled.

I was actually expecting these pops to have a lot more calories and fat than they really do...  I guess it's from the richness of the cheesecake and the sweetness of the chocolate.  I totally don't feel any guilt for eating 3 pops in a row, hehe.  Surprisingly enough, most of the calories/fat come from the chocolate and not the cheesecake!

Finally, something good came out of the snooze button!

June 16, 2012

Classic Cheesecake

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Just like how I developed a liking for the taste of dark chocolate after my milk-chocolate-obsessed childhood, I developed a liking love for cheesecake.  I used to hate the creamy texture and the tangy flavor of cheesecake, I preferred all things baked such as cakes, cupcakes and cookies... I also preferred all things chocolate.

But I've changed and for the better.  I crave cheesecake just like I crave cake.  Probably because now I know that cheesecake can actually be a healthy, balanced dessert that also tastes good!  Scratch that.

I'm probably infatuated with cheesecake because it can be healthy, balanced, and taste oh my goodness ahhhmazing.  I'm sorry, I'm just a little cheesecake happy right now.  Aka, picture me with cheesecake all over my face......

I am so pleased with the result of this dessert, and apparently so is everyone else I shared it with!  Two bites later, I regretted sharing it at all... because I kinda wanted it all to myself.

This is a simple, yet satisfyingly indulgent dessert that doesn't need any frills to please, all it needs is a crust, a filling and fruit topping!  My mother, a cheesecake hoarder/maniac fanatic, even said this tasted like real cheesecake:

     "It has the perfect level of sweetness, a slight tang, and rich and creamy texture."  - Momma

Everything a cheesecake should have!

Classic Cheesecake:  [low fat, high protein, GF*]
(serves 10-16 depending on how you slice it)

   Graham Cracker Crust:*
       1+1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs (for GF, use these crackers)
       1 tbs Pure Cane Sugar
       1/4 tsp Salt
       56 (1/4 cup) Coconut Oil, liquid
       1/4 tsp Butter Extract

   Cheesecake Filling:
       16oz Fat Free Cream Cheese
       16oz (2 cups) Plain, Nonfat Greek Yogurt
       84g (1/4 cup) Light Agave Nectar
       1/2 tsp Stevia Extract
       1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
       1/4 tsp Lemon Flavor
       64g (2 scoops) Vanilla Protein Powder
       16g (2 tbs) Arrowroot Starch (or cornstarch)

   Strawberry Topping:
       ~1+1/4 cups 100% Fruit Strawberry Spread

*If you like a thin crust, use 1 cup of crumbs and 3 tbs of coconut oil.

Directions (for the crust):
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a 9" springform pan with cooking spray, set aside.
2.  In a blender or food processor, crush the crackers until they are crumbs.  Pour into a medium-sized bowl and whisk in the sugar and salt.
3.  In a small bowl, combine the coconut oil and butter extract, stir, then pour over the graham cracker mixture.  Stir until all mixture has been moistened then pour into the springform pan.  Flatten the mixture, raising the crust slightly around the edges.  Bake for ~8 minutes, until fragrant.  Let cool while you make the filling.

Directions (for the filling and topping):
1.  In a large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, yogurt, agave and extracts, and whisk until almost all is combined (it should be slightly clumpy).
2.  Whisk in the protein powder, then whisk in the starch (mixture should be smooth now).  Pour into the springform pan and bake for 32-35 minutes (surface should be somewhat firm and have cracks, but don't worry, it will be covered with the jam!  Edges should be slightly browned, not burnt.  Depending on your oven, a few more/less minutes will be needed to just keep watch).  Remove the springform wall and let cool until barely warm, refrigerate overnight with a sheet of foil or paper towel draped over the cheesecake, not covered completely.  The next day, dab the surface of the cheesecake with a paper towel to remove any moisture.  Slice and top each piece with ~2 tbs of the strawberry jam (or however much you like).

Get ready to see one astounding nutrition label, for one extraordinary cheesecake!

(does not include topping)

Am I the only one who crapped their pants?  A hearty slice of cheesecake for 240 calories, 7g of fat and 17g of protein?!?

I can barely believe it myself.  Oh, and I won't limit this cheesecake to just dessert, this is totally suitable for breakfast a post-workout meal.  Actually, it totally fits the bill for breakfast...
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